And the music? Suffice it to say that some Iranian musicians, not orchestra members, reportedly complained beforehand that the work wasn’t good enough to export. They were right. Scored for orchestra, chorus and male solo singer, with an electric guitar, amplified piano and battalion of harpists thrown in to increase the racket, the symphony approximates brief melodies in between lengthy drum assaults by burgling hints of “Dr. Zhivago” and “Lord of the Rings” along with Vivaldi and “Fiddler on the Roof.” Otherwise, for the better part of 75 minutes, a whole team of percussionists gravely beat the bejesus out of a variety of very loud drums, to unintentionally (and increasingly) comic effect.
Was the reporter exaggerating? Decide for yourself, in 2 parts!
Posted By: Paul - Thu Feb 04, 2010 -
Mildred's Temple Kitchen, a restaurant in Toronto, has an unusual idea for celebrating Valentines Day. The owner/chef, Donna Dooher, suggests a nice dinner at the restaurant followed by a romantic interlude in one of their 4 unisex bathrooms. Dooher claims trysts have taken place in their restrooms before, but now she's encouraging people to do it. In fact the restaurant will be employing a maid to keep things tidy during the Valentine weekend, February 12-15.
President Obama’s recent fall in approval rating may have an unusual cause, he may possibly be too thin. In a recent study by Elizabeth Miller of the University of Missouri, voters prefer their male politicians to be portly, while women representatives should be more wasp-waisted. In an experiment involving 120 volunteers, people were asked to assess fictitious male and female candidates from a brief bio and a picture, crucially two pictures of each candidate were used, a natural one and one manipulated to portray the person as overweight. People shown the heavier male scored him an average 10% higher for reliability, honesty, dependability and inspiration than his thinner doppelganger, but this relationship was reversed in the woman candidate. In the journal Obesity, Miller puts this down to societal expectation and stereotyping (Telegraph).
Social pressure also crops up in explaining another finding this week, this one by Meridith Young of McMaster University in Ontario, that what single women eat depends a lot on whom they are eating with. After covertly monitoring the canteen behaviour of 470 undergraduates, Young found that women significantly lowered their calorie intake when sat with men compared with all women groups. Moreover, the more men a woman sat with, the less on average she consumed. In the journal Appetite, she puts the discrepancy down to women unconsciously advertising themselves to men, adding "the salad leaves are meant to say, I'm pretty, I'm attractive, I take care of myself" (Guardian).
Of course, we all know what men really like in a woman; that she not appear too powerful. Or so says a study by Brian Meier and Sarah Dionne of Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania. In the study, eighty 19 year-olds were asked to rate the attractiveness of a number of images presented in random order, some of which would be repeated. In fact the subjects saw each image twice, once near the top of the screen and once low down. The researchers found that men rated women 1.8% more attractive when observed near the bottom, and women found men 1.5% better looking when higher up. They suggest that their findings might explain why men are taller than their women partners more frequently than would be expected by chance (Times of India).
As to what women really like in men, perhaps not being British should be somewhere on the list. After champagne controversially lost out to an English wine earlier this week, French scientists have hit back at British research that concluded that the mythical “G-spot” did not exist. “Of course it exists,” say French gynaecologists, “you just can’t find it!” The original study by King’s College in London looked at over 900 pairs of identical or non-identical twins in the expectation that the identical siblings should both report having a G-spot more frequently than the others, they did not. The French however claim their cross-channel colleagues have got the wrong end of the speculum, “It is not a question of genetics but of use," said one (Telegraph).
Each year the BBC broadcasts the Richard Dimbleby Lecture, a 50 minute speech by a well-known figure on a topical subject they feel strongly about. Previous speakers include Richard Dawkins, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Bill Clinton and the Prince of Wales; this year the lecture was by author Sir Terry Pratchett, and read for him by actor Tony Robinson. Read for him because Pratchett has a rare form of Alzheimer’s disease called PCA, and is facing a future where his mental faculties will desert him piece by piece until all language, memory and reason are gone. Ranged against that ending is Pratchett’s own wish, to die in a chair in his garden, with a brandy in one hand and Thomas Tallis playing on his iPod. Hence his lecture is a frank, powerful and impassioned call that he and others in similar situations be allowed to die their way, and that those who assist them to do so not be prosecuted for their cooperation.
For those not able to sit through all 6 parts, an edited transcript is available here.
Holly Crawford, 35, from Pennsylvania, is set to go on trial today for cruelty to animals because she was trying to sell Gothic Kittens online. It's not the act of selling the kittens that has Holly in trouble, however. It is the fact that the kittens were pierced (as pictured). When humane officers searched her home in December, they found three kittens with ear, neck and tail piercings. Holly's attorney has posed the question “Why is it a crime to pierce a cat’s ears?” and she claims that she had no cruel intentions. Reader comments on the article (which you can read here) range from "punish the freak" to "if you punish this woman you should also punish people who declaw cats". What's your opinion?
A 62 year old Pontiac, Michigan man received second degree burns to 18% of his body when his homemade sledding rocket pack exploded. The rocket pack was made from a motorcycle muffler that was filled with gasoline and gun powder. After strapping it on he lit the fuse and began sledding down a hill in his back yard. Unfortunately, instead of propelling him, as I assume he expected, the thing blew up. The man throws yearly sledding parties in which he does crazy stuff, just not quite this crazy. I wonder how he will top it next year.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.
Chuck is the purveyor of News of the Weird, the syndicated column which for decades has set the gold-standard for reporting on oddities and the bizarre.
Our banner was drawn by the legendary underground cartoonist Rick Altergott.